Drowning not waving: The 'children overboard' event and Australia's fear of the 'other'
Faculty of Arts, Griffith University
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of Communications and Multimedia
The last few years have been an awakening time for the people, communities and governments of the global village. Escalating problems in the Middle East, global economic uncertainty and an increase in asylum seekers, refugees and migration worldwide have reignited tensions involving boundaries and borders, both geographical and cognitive. One event which highlighted these tensions in Australia, and which was given much media coverage, was the ‘children overboard’ event in October 2001. Utilising a selection of print news coverage of the event, this paper explores how the ‘children overboard’ event demarcated national identities and spaces through the construction and representation of ‘good’ Australian citizens and ‘bad’ asylum seeker ‘others’. Specifically referring to ‘children overboard’ as an ‘event’, I seek to highlight the constructed and representational nature of ‘children overboard’ as a media story and political tool, one which promoted a continuing threat of ‘others’ to the nation in order to gain support for government policy and legitimize national security, and in so doing creating a model of Australian citizenship and identity based upon fear.